Gratitude Diary

A gratitude diary can change your whole life, and it only takes a couple of minutes each day. I show you how to do it, what to expect, and what scientific research is being done.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Are You A Rebel?

Do you rebel over injustice, stupid rules, authority, bad design, etc etc the list can go on. Do you grumble, and waste time and energy on protesting over these? Is your favourite TV show "Grumpy Old Women" or "Grumpy Old Men"?

Did you know that it is your reaction to these events, that is keeping you unhappy?

You have the choice to be happy or sad, or be in a temper, or experience frustration – yes this is your choice (stop rebelling for a minute and hear me out).

What you resist is what you get to keep. Acceptance brings a calm, peaceful relief, and a base from which any actions you take come from a logical and reasonable place, not a het up one where emotions can cloud your judgement. I’m not saying to not do anything about what you see is wrong around you. I’m saying that in a calm state, you’ll be able to see more sides to the story than otherwise.

The next step after acceptance, is gratitude. Using the same Universal principle as “what you resist is what you get to keep”, likewise, the more gratitude you have for everything around you, the more everything around you will become gratifying. You will attract more good things to you, and you will be able to use your time and energy more constructively.

Try a Gratitude Diary for 1 month – what have you got to lose?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gratitude, like Faith, is a Muscle

"Gratitude, like Faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf. If you do not practise gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished. To be grateful is to find blessings in everything. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there are blessings in everything.”
Alan Cohen

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I am determined to see things differently

Our state of mind is our responsibility. Whether we experience peace or conflict is determined by the choice we make in how we see people and situations. A shift in perception can reverse our way of thinking, so that we see the world around us in a new, wonderful light.

A gratitude diary is one tool you can use to help shift your perceptions, and allow you to start experiencing a wonderful life.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Online Gratitude Diary

You can create your own Gratitude Diary online at

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Treating Depression

A very good friend of mine suffered from depression for years, and was taking medication on and off. The doctors he went to did not even ask him any questions about his depression, or recommend counselling, or ANYTHING. Merely repeated his prescription of a drug.

After I learnt about and started benefiting from a gratitude diary, I encouraged him to do the same. However, it did not work for him at all.

OK, I reasoned something a little more drastic was necessary.

I asked him to start listing everything he could be grateful for. Everything he had in his life right now - beautiful kids, comfortable furniture, a computer etc etc etc - everything. And then everything that had happened in his life he could be grateful for. This effort was a monumental task for him, but he did it. Took him 2 days, and many, many pages.

The idea was to turn his thoughts away from negativity, from what was wrong in his life, and what he didn't have, and start focussing on what he DID have, and achievements he could be proud of.

At the same time, he commenced an excercise program of walking each day around his neighbourhood- to stimulate him, to get him out of the house, to start appreciating things around him, and to turn his mind outwards instead of inwards.

The other program he undertook was a juice detox, with a detox diet following. This was to eliminate the toxins that interfered with the chemicals in his brain, that were somehow stopping his supply of seratonin and other essentials that help keep us stable and happy.

Between the 3 programs - Gratitude, Exercise, and a Juice Detox, he was completely normal within about 2 months. Yes, he still has sad or negative days - but don't we all? Most of the time, he is not depressed, and is handling his life very well.

Gratitude diary instructions :

Juice Detox diet he followed :

Thursday, July 20, 2006

When you Feel Like Screaming...

When you feel like screaming at your partner or the kids and you’re feeling very sorry for yourself, then it’s the time to start a Gratitude Diary.

Make a list at the beginning or end of each day of at least 20 things that you are thankful for today. You can write it down or do it in your day.

Start noticing the little things.

For example; “Thanks for the smile my son gave me at breakfast”; “Thanks for the taste of that first sip of my morning coffee”; “Thanks for the compliment I got about my work from my boss”.

Keep this diary for at least 2 weeks, and it will become a useful tool to help you keep a positive attitude when life is challenging!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Who Has Time For Gratitude?

In our very busy lives, it’s just another thing we're supposed to do, isn’t it?

It's not about time, but rather about perspective, says M.J. Ryan, author of Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life (Conari, 1999).

"Gratitude is what we feel when we look at what's right about our lives," she says. And why is that important? Especially when something's stressing you out or getting you down, she says, "When you shine the flashlight of awareness on what's right [in your life] you have an entirely different emotional experience. You activate your left pre-frontal cortex where your positive feelings reside." Not only do you intellectually "appreciate what you have," you also feel more grateful, positive, and happy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More Research

Ulrich Schimmack is Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto at Mississauga

His area of Research is Personality and Well-Being.

He says "The main aim of my research is to contribute to the scientific understanding of happiness. The ultimate goal is to develop a causal theory of happiness that can be used to predict the impact of personal and societal changes on happiness (cf. Kahneman, Schwarz, & Diener, 1999, “Well-Being: The foundations of hedonic psychology”). The scientific term for happiness is subjective well-being (SWB). SWB has a cognitive and an affective component. The cognitive component is assessed with life-satisfaction judgments (“I am satisfied with my life.) The affective component is based on the amount of pleasant and unpleasant experiences in people’s lives."

Schimmack cautions people about the self-help section of their local bookstore, saying there is no universal advice on how to be happy.

He does, however, point to one strategy that has shown some effectiveness. "Every day at the end of the day, write down a couple of things you are thankful for in your own personal gratitude diary," he says. Research suggests that being more aware of the good things produces a long-term improvement in life satisfaction. "Athletes lose a lot of competitions, but they always remember the victories because they're more meaningful. Collect positive experiences like an athlete collects trophies."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

While waiting in a queue the other day, I was talking with a 20year old guy.

He hadn’t been in Australia very long, and was complaining it was hard for him. Between work, dealing with government agencies and learning the language, he said he had no time for fun.

I asked him why he couldn’t be happy where he was? He looked incredulous, like it was a concept he hadn’t thought of. I told him happiness was a journey, not the destination.

He left me looking very thoughtful, and I’m grateful I could help him. It got me thinking though – we are so ingrained to be negative, and complain all the time. No wonder so many people are unhappy. A gratitude diary can be the first step to reversing this.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Key To Contentment is Gratitude

A major key to contentment is gratitude. Being thankful for what you have leads to contentment, while continually wanting more and more leaves us feeling empty and unfulfilled. Having MORE does not, alas, make us more content over the long run--the initial high about the new car, the new wardrobe, or the vacation quickly fades. No matter what our former economic status, we become accustomed to the new level and soon it isn't enough either.

It is human to want MORE, and while that motivates us to keep moving, seldom do we have any sustained sense of ENOUGH. To be content, we need to slip out of the well-worn rut of wanting more, more, more and just experience that, right now, in this moment, we have enough.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


In March of 1996, Oprah invited Sarah Ban Breathnach to The Oprah Winfrey Show, and her book Simple Abundance inspired Oprah to start a gratitude diary.

Sarah's personal journey toward discovering her authentic self has motivated millions of people to live happier and more joyful lives.

I highly recommend Sarah's books :
"Simple Abundance Gratitude Journal"
"Simple Abundance : A Daybook of Comfort and Joy"
The links take you to Amazon.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Scientific Study Results on Gratitude

Two psychologists are working to unlock the puzzle of how gratitude might promote happiness. Dr. Michael McCollough, of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, say their initial scientific study indicates that gratitude plays a significant role in a person's sense of well-being.

From Cicero to Buddha, many philosophers and spiritual teachers have celebrated gratitude. The world's major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hindu, prize gratitude as a morally beneficial emotional state that encourages reciprocal kindness. Pastors, priests, parents and grandparents have long extolled the virtues of gratitude, but until recently, scholars have largely ignored it as a subject of scientific inquiry.

McCollough and Emmons were curious about why people involved in their faith seem to have more happiness and a greater sense of well-being than those who aren't and decided to study the connections. After making initial observations and compiling all the previous research on gratitude, they conducted the Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving. The study required several hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day, while the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences. The last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.

The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved. McCollough and Emmons also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude encourages another.

McCullough says these results also seem to show that gratitude works independently of faith. Though gratitude is a substantial part of most religions, he says the benefits extend to the general population, regardless of faith or lack thereof. In light of his research, McCullough suggests that anyone can increase their sense of well-being and create positive social effects just from counting their blessings.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

How a Gratitude Diary Works

Here's how a Gratitude Diary works :

1. Every day, write down 5 things you are grateful for. It can be anything - feeling the sunshine on your face, happy that a friend phoned, receiving a present, being able to take a walk, anything. Work out a time to do this. Ideally, around the same time every day works best.

2. Make a commitment to yourself that you will write down 5 things every day - this is very important.

4. The 5 things MUST be DIFFERENT each time. Never repeat anything. NEVER REPEAT ANYTHING!

5. Smile as you write them down. This will help you to feel grateful.

6. You can write a lot about each thing, get really detailed, write why you are grateful for it. Or if you don't have time, just write one line.

Here's what will happen :

The first day you'll be thinking hard about what you're grateful for. You will find them, though.

The second day, knowing you must find 5 new things to write down, you'll start to look for things to be grateful for.

As the days go by, you'll experience a shift in your attitude. You'll begin to expect things to happen to be grateful for.

As more days pass, there will be another shift. You'll start to recognize when things happen to be grateful for.

Another shift will take place when you start to feel grateful at the time the event takes place.

This is when the miracle of gratitude will really start happening for you.

From experience, I would say that this process will take about one month. Keep it going for at least this length of time and you will see changes start to happen in your life.

Don't stop the gratitude diary at this point, no matter how good things are going. Never stop!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Gratitude Diary Works!

I kept a gratitude diary for about 12 months a couple of years ago, and the results I had were amazing.

I kept winning things - competitions, prizes etc. About $10,000 worth I estimate.
And everything I wanted came to me really easily.

Examples (out of many) :
I was having coffee with a friend, and when I arrived, he introduced me to a friend of his, John. Within 20 minutes, John offered me the use of his car for the next 2 weeks (I didn't have a car at the time).
And I could pick it up after it was delivered to him the next day - it was a brand new Mitsubishi 4wheel drive. Unbelievable. I did take him up on his offer, by the way. I asked him why he was doing this - he said he didn't know, he just felt motivated to do it.

I needed to find a new place to live, and had scheduled myself to start looking on the internet at 10am. At 9.57am a friend phoned to say he had a house that needed looking after, did I want it, and go to see it today, because the air conditioning was being installed (!). And he charged me a very low rent.

Unfortunately, I started taking it all for granted, and stopped the diary. Thought I didn't need it anymore. Big mistake! My life has been much more difficult since then. So I've started one up again - I know it works.